Top 11 Tricep Pushdown Alternative Exercises That Can Build Your Upper Body

The tricep pushdown requires a cable machine which only a few may have at home. Try these tricep pushdown alternative exercises at home for upper body mass and bigger arms if you don’t have a cable machine

Triceps pushdowns are highly effective exercises that isolate all three heads of the triceps. Most people perform this exercise using a cable machine. But how would you do that if you didn’t have a cable machine at home?

Luckily, there are a few tricep pushdown alternative exercises that you can do without much equipment.

triceps pushdown with a machine

Some of these alternative exercises to the tricep pushdown require dumbbells or resistance bands. Most serious exercisers who work out at home will have some of these home gym equipment.

And some of the tricep pushdown alternative exercises are bodyweight exercises, meaning they don’t require any equipment at all.

What is the Tricep Pushdown Exercise?
The tricep pushdown exercise specifically targets the triceps. It is one of the primary exercises for developing muscle mass and strength in your triceps. But, the exercise requires a bulky gym machine.

Key Benefits:

  • Increases mass in the upper body.
  • Gives you bigger arms.
  • Provides better lockout strength.
  • Primary triceps exercise.

Muscles Worked:

  • Triceps (long, lateral, and medial heads).
  • Obliques.
  • Pectoralis major.
  • Pectoralis minor.
  • Latissimus dorsi.
  • Abs.
  • Trapezius.

The tricep pushdown requires a cable machine which not everyone has in their homes. But that’s not the only way to do it. There are a few cable tricep pushdown alternative exercises that you can do at home without a cable machine.

Best tricep pushdown alternative exercises that can isolate the triceps muscle in your upper arms

Try these tricep pushdown alternative exercises at home for upper body mass and bigger arms

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

dumbbell skull crushers triceps pushdown alternative exercise

Skull crushers are an ideal cable tricep pulldown alternative exercise because it isolates your triceps. This makes it easier for you to focus on that muscle group and build strength.

To do this alternative for tricep pushdown exercise, you’ll need some dumbbells of a suitable weight. You may want to start with lighter weights and then increase the weight as you go along.

Level: Intermediate.
Equipment Required: Dumbbells, Flat bench.

Steps to follow:

  • Lie down with your back against the flat bench and your head right on the edge of the bench.
  • Grab a dumbbell in either hand.
  • Extend your elbows so that the dumbbells are right above you. Your elbow should be straight and perpendicular to the ground or bench. And your palms should be facing towards each other.
  • Lower the dumbbells at either side, keeping the elbows completely straight. Keep lowering them until the embows are parallel to the ground and make a 90-degree angle with your chest.
  • Extend your elbows again and repeat for 10-12 reps.

Resistance Band Pushdown

resistance band pulldown - calisthenics equipment

If you want the exercise closest to a tricep triceps pushdown, you should try the resistance band pushdown. This is almost the same exercise, but it substitutes the cables with a resistance band. These bands are readily available and add weight to your workout.

Level: Beginner.
Equipment Required: Resistance band, Anchor for the resistance band.

Steps to follow:

  • First, find a place on the wall where you can securely anchor your resistance band.
  • Walk a step or two from the wall, so you have more space to move your hands.
  • Grab the resistance band in both hands, ensuring that the palms face each other.
  • Now, keep a straight posture. Raise your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades to engage the triceps fully.
  • Pull the band down so that your arms are fully extended. In this state, the band should be right at your waist level.
  • Remember that your elbows should remain tucked by your side to engage the triceps fully.
  • Now, pull the band back up to its starting position and repeat 10-12 reps.

Dumbbell Kickbacks

dumbbell kickback tricep pushdown alternative exercise

Dumbbell kickbacks are arguably one of the best tricep pushdown alternative exercises at home. They specifically target the triceps.

Level: Intermediate.
Equipment Required: 1 or 2 dumbbells.

You will find detailed steps to follow for the dumbbell kickbacks exercise here

Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

overhead triceps extension

This is the best tricep pushdown alternative exercise at home in that it targets all three heads of your triceps. You can perform it using one or both arms. It helps remove any imbalances in muscle strength between your triceps.

Level: Beginner.
Equipment Required: Dumbbell.

Steps to follow:

  • Stand up straight and grab a dumbbell in one or both hands.
  • Hold the dumbbell above your head and bend your elbow so that the dumbbell rests behind your shoulder. You can keep your other hand on the side of your chest below the armpit.
  • Keep the elbow tucked into the head and slowly raise the dumbbell until the elbow is fully extended.
  • Then, lower it back to the starting position (behind your head).
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.
  • Switch hands and repeat for 10-12 reps.

Diamond Push-Ups

diamond push ups bodyweight tricep exercises

Pushups are all-in-one exercises that work out the core and triceps muscles. However, you don’t just do an ordinary pushup to engage the triceps. You do a diamond pushup.

Level: Beginner.
Equipment Required: Exercise mat (optional).

Steps to follow:

To do this tricep pushdown alternative,

  • Get down on all fours on the mat or the floor and kick your feet back so that you’re on your tiptoes.
  • Your hands should be flat on the ground, and your elbows should be fully extended. Keep the hips and the rest of the spine in line. Do not let your hips sag.
  • Now, move your hands closer so that your index fingers and thumbs form a diamond shape.
  • Slowly lower your body into the floor, keeping your neck, back, and hips straight and in line.
  • Do not let yourself touch the floor. Bring yourself back up until your elbows are fully extended.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

TRX Skull Crusher

The TRX skull crusher is another ideal alternative exercise to tricep pushdown. It requires a TRX suspension trainer, which is readily available on the market.

Level: Intermediate.
Equipment Required: TRX suspension trainer, Anchor on a wall.

Steps to follow:

  • First, anchor the TRX suspension trainer on a wall or a door. Then, walk a few steps back from the wall and face away from the anchor point.
  • Grab the TRX handles with your hands such that your palms are facing away from you.
  • Lean forward with your elbows bent, so your body forms a 45-degree angle with the floor.
  • Now, slowly curl your elbows so that the TRX handles in your hands come up to your forehead. Keep your elbows tucked in and ensure that only your forearms move and not your triceps.
  • Now, lower the handles so that your elbows are fully extended.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Lying Triceps Extension

lying triceps extension

The lying triceps extension is the perfect tricep pushdown alternative exercise as it’s easy to learn and do. However, be careful as this exercise can put a lot of stress on your elbows.

Level: Intermediate.
Equipment Required: Dumbbells, Flat bench.

Steps to follow:

  • Grab a dumbbell in either hand and lie on your back on the bench. Your head should be just at the edge.
  • Hold the dumbbells over the chest and raise them by extending your elbows.
  • Now, keeping the elbows tucked and locked, bend the elbows and lower the dumbbells behind your head. Only your forearms should move, and your upper arm and elbow should remain put.
  • Once you’ve lowered the dumbbells to about the level of your head, bring them back up. In this way, the elbows will be fully extended.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.


woman doing bench dips bodyweight tricep exercises

Dips are compound tricep pushdown alternative exercises. They make use of many muscles at the same time.

Dips increase strength in your muscles and develop many parts of the body, including the triceps.

Level: Beginner.
Equipment Required: Chair or another object to hold on to.

Steps to follow:

  • Find an object that is at the same height as your knees. A chair will do perfectly fine.
  • Stand in front of the chair, facing away from it, and lower your body into a squat.
  • Grab the chair behind you with both hands firmly.
  • Kick your feet out in front of you and rest them on the heels.
  • Now, bend the elbows and lower yourself to the floor. Do not touch the floor.
  • Extend your elbows and raise yourself. Your back and legs should stay stable throughout.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Weighted Dips

You can change up the dip exercise by adding resistance to it. There are many ways to add weight to a dip. You can add weight to your stomach or set it on your feet. Either that, or you can wear a weighted vest on your body.

Level: Intermediate.
Equipment Required: Free weight plates, Weighted vest (optional).

Steps to follow:

  • Look for a chair or any other object at the same level.
  • Tie the weight around your core with a weight belt or wear a weighted belt. If you plan to use a weight on your feet, skip this step.
  • Stand in front of that chair with your back facing the chair. Lower your body into a squat.
  • Grab the chair from behind and kick your legs out in front of you so that your heels are touching the floor. At this point, you may place a weight on your feet.
  • Then, lower yourself slowly, bending your elbows, until your tail bone is right above the floor.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then raise yourself back.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Resistance Band Overhead Triceps Extensions:

overhead extension with resistance band tricep pushdown alternative exercise

The resistance band overhead triceps extension is the reverse of the triceps pushdown. But it targets the same muscle groups and will fatigue your muscles faster.

Level: Intermediate.
Equipment Required: Resistance band, Anchor point.

Steps to follow:

  • Find an anchor point for the resistance band. It should be at a low point. The lower it is, the better. You can begin by putting your resistance band in a doorframe and shutting the door.
  • Grab the resistance band in both hands and face away from the door. Take a small step forward with one leg and a step back with the other.
  • Extend your arms above your head so that the resistance band goes over your head.
  • Now, keeping the elbows tucked, pull the hands down, bringing them to the right below the back of your head.
  • Extend your elbows once again and repeat for 10-12 reps.

Bodyweight Skull Crusher

You can try the bodyweight skull crusher if you don’t have dumbbells. For this, you’ll need a bar that is set to at least your waist height. You can also use a table or a desk if it’s stable enough.

Level: Intermediate.
Equipment Required: Bar or desk/table/chair.

Steps to follow:

  • Walk a few steps away from the bar and, while facing it, lean in to grab onto it with both hands. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your legs should be in full stretch behind you.
  • Keep the elbows extended. Your body should make a 45-degree angle with the floor in this position.
  • Now, carefully lower yourself using your triceps until your head touches the bar. Keep the elbows tucked and the rest of your body perfectly still. Do not lower your lower body.
  • Push yourself back up so that your arms are in full extension.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.


What is the best tricep pushdown alternative?

The best alternative exercise for the tricep pushdown is the dumbbell skull crusher. Much like the pushdown, it also targets the triceps very closely.

How to do triceps pushdown at home?

You can easily do the tricep pushdown at home using a resistance band to substitute the cable. You can also look into other alternative exercises.

What are the benefits of the triceps pushdown exercise?

This is the primary exercise that targets all the heads of your triceps and helps build muscle, place strength, and mass.

  1. Tiwana MS, Bordoni B. Anatomy, shoulder, and upper limb, triceps muscleStatPearls Publishing. 2019.
  2. American Council on Exercise. Triceps pushdowns.
  3. Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. What is triceps tendonitis?.
  4. American Council on Exercise (ACE). How Many Reps Should You Be Doing?
  5. Dumbbell Triceps Extension
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
  7. American Council on Exercise (ACE). ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises
  8. American Council on Exercise (ACE). 6 Triceps Brachii Exercises for Stronger Triceps
  9. American Council on Exercise (ACE). Triceps Exercises: Body-weight Bench Dips vs. Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks

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